There’s nothing more influential when wanting to build a better body than following a well-designed blueprint. Here’s how to draw up your perfect plan so you can start looking, feeling and performing better than ever
Most of us would like to be a bit healthier and fitter. Some of us also want to be a bit leaner, or maybe run a touch faster. Others may wish they had more lean muscle mass, or were stronger in the weights room. Whatever your number one fitness goal it’s essential you have a clear plan of action to achieve it.
Why? Without a clearly-defined goal, and then a blueprint of how to get there, your efforts in the gym or in the kitchen will be in vain. Starting without a plan is a bit like taking a journey without a map: it doesn’t matter how fast you go or for how long you travel, you’ll likely end up going round in circles and never reach your destination! Here’s how to chose your goal, and then make a plan to achieve it, to live the better life you want.
Set your goal
Your best-ever you begins with working out what your number one goal actually is. It could be a specific body-composition goal, such as losing a certain amount of body fat, or hitting a new deadlift one-rep max. It could be a health goal, such as fixing your poor sleep habits, or an ambition totally unrelated to fitness, such as landing your dream job or fixing your work-life balance. We’re all different, with different ideas of what a fitter, healthier and happier life means, so it’s vitally important your goal is tailored to you and not to anyone else.
If you’re not sure what your number one goal is then try this quick and easy exercise that we use in the New Body Plan Success Planner book. Take a blank piece of paper and on it draw a big circle. Inside that circle write down all your health, happiness and life goals – and don’t be afraid to think big! Consider those achievements that would make you really proud of yourself if you made them a reality.
Then go through your list and identify which are realistic within an eight-week timeframe. You now have a list of challenging but realistic goals. Now pick the one you would most like to achieve above all the others (but don’t throw away those other goals because you may want to come revisit them as your future number one goals!).
The reason an eight-week time limit is ideal – and why the New Body Plan training programmes last for eight weeks – is that two months is long enough to make a massive difference to your life without it ever feeling like it’s going to be a long and never-ending slog.
Setting an eight-week limit also enables you to select a realistic objective that, once achieved, will give you tons of confidence in your abilities, and move you a big step closer towards tackling an even bigger achievement. Say you’re new to running and want to do a marathon. That’s a great long-term goal, but a smarter eight-week goal is to run a 10k race or half-marathon. Working towards this goal will bring many benefits in its own right, as well as getting you a long way down the road towards that marathon medal!
Break it down
Once you’ve selected your eight-week goal, stack the odds in your favour of making it happen by breaking it down into weekly or fortnightly “mini-goals” to help you track your progress, keep you on the right path, and boost your confidence and motivation levels with each target you hit. So if you want to lose 4kg of body fat in eight weeks a sensible strategy would be to set weekly or fortnightly fat-loss targets.
You could set mini-goals of losing 1kg of fat every fortnight (but remember to not fixate on the weight on the scales alone, because you can lose body fat and see your total weight stay still or even go up if you’re adding muscle simultaneously), or you could “front load” your targets with an aim of 1.5kg in each of the first two fortnights, then 500g in each of the final two fortnights, because you know that losing body fat is easier at the start of a training programme and gets progressively harder the leaner you get. This is where being realistic and smart combine so you can design your perfect plan of action.
You can begin your eight-week challenge with the perfect plan and all the motivation in the world but sometimes life gets in the way and knocks you off-track. If this happens – don’t despair! All is not lost because it’s an opportunity to analyse what happened and bounce right back.
Write out everything that went well and list all the positive steps you took, then take a moment to celebrate these wins. Then ask yourself what didn’t go according to plan. Maybe your goal too ambitious for an eight-week timeframe, and you should refine your goal into one that’s more achievable. But even that isn’t a setback because you’re learning all the time and gaining confidence and experience about what does and what doesn’t work for you. And that’s the beauty of goal-setting and goal-getting – you never actually fail; you just keep finding ways of doing things better!